Chasing Sunrise, Finding History — PeggySue Wells
Today I’m happy to welcome author PeggySue Wells as she shares about her book, Chasing Sunrise.
Like finding treasure in each novel, I include unique places the reader probably has not visited, adventures my reader most likely has not experienced, and historical facts about our zany world that were not in our text books. When a fellow author accused this was a carry-over from being a homeschool mom, I assured her I was this way long before homeschooling.
In suspense novel, Chasing Sunrise, I take the reader scuba diving along the wall off the coast of St. Croix. While scuba diving is fairly commonplace, diving the wall is akin to plunging down an elevator shaft. The majestic formation drops some 3000 feet below the ocean surface.
With the island as the setting, I included the historic sugar mills, rum production, the seven flags that flew over St. Croix, World War II sonobuoys, sea glass, how to crack open a fresh coconut, mocho jumbies, Alexander Hamilton, and crab races.
Pivotal to the plot, our characters experience Hurricane Hugo, the category four Cape Verde tropical cyclone that decimated 95 percent of the island in 1989. International killers and the killer hurricane descend simultaneously on the island. Unable to save the life of someone he cared about earlier, will our hero’s skills be enough to protect those he loves on the island?
Native to the island, the manchineel tree is deadly to everyone except a species of land crabs. St. Croix is the only United States-owned soil where Columbus landed, and he quickly discovered the danger of the manchineel after several of his men ate the fruit and died.
Michael examined the extent of the damage. “If it’s so dangerous, why not get rid of the tree?”
“That’s just as dangerous.” Jake shook his head. “Maybe more. Standing beneath the tree during rain may cause blistering. Cutting the tree gets the poisonous sap everywhere. Burning the tree causes blindness if the smoke reaches the eyes. Inhaling the smoke blisters the nose, mouth, and respiratory system.”
“Nuisance,” Michael groused.
Discovering the tree and its parts contain strong toxins, what’s an author to do? Of course, I let our military pararescueman leverage the tree as a weapon against the unsavory bad guys.
Exploring, learning, and researching are perks of being an author. The fun is multiplied by weaving in the lesser-known history of places like St. Croix. Chasing Sunrise becomes an experience for my readers.
Watch for my new release, The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make on November 17. Preorder is available now. New website, Single Mom Circle, launches mid-October. Drop in for lots of resources and free gifts.
“Eminently quotable, PeggySue Wells is a tonic — warm like your favorite blanket, bracing like a stiff drink.”
History buff, and tropical island votary, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, PeggySue is the bestselling author of 29 books, translated into eight languages, including The What To Do series, The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Radio talk show host, author, and speaker, PeggySue interviews industry experts, entrepreneurs, and exceptional voices to help people live better, together. Click HERE to get a free Chasing Sunrise bonus chapter: Wings for Christmas
Connect with PeggySue Wells at
Captain Michael Northington looked toward the patient’s room. The door was closed.
“There’s a VIP patient at Bethesda.” Corbin MacIntyre, the special ops commander had briefed him earlier. “Protect the room. No one is allowed access except medical staff, and they already have their orders.”
“You’re expecting an attempt on the patient’s life?”
“Monitor the floor. Apprehend anyone.”
The night watch in a hospital in the late 1980s was atypical for the parajumper accustomed to more active assignments. Establishing a runway before an invasion, rescuing a downed pilot, or descending from a hovering helicopter to a ship bucking like a bronco in a wildly choppy sea were customary fare for Michael and his four-man team. But tonight found his partner and him serving more as security guards in the upscale medical center than as trained rescue personnel. Still, orders were orders.
Now, Michael casually observed a gray-haired janitor as he lugged a wash bucket into the hospital corridor. Mop. Slosh. Wring. Mop. The overhead fluorescent lights gleamed off the man’s glasses, and his name badge swung back and forth as he swept the mop from side to side.
“Evenin’,” the custodian mumbled as he shuffled up to Michael.
As the old man swished the ammonia-smelling mop, Michael stepped away and let the man do his job. The janitor mopped his way into the room across the hall from the room occupied by the protected patient.
A thick-waisted nurse in soft-soled shoes walked toward the patient’s room. She frowned when Michael stepped in front of her and flashed her identity badge and an irritated attitude. He nodded and moved aside. She brushed past and entered the room, closing the door behind her. Suppressing a yawn, Michael checked his watch. In a couple of hours, the sun would rise and his shift would end. He anticipated a platter-sized breakfast at the twenty-four-hour diner followed by a nap.
Eager for morning and breakfast, Michael glanced out the window. A pale glow promised daybreak, and he could almost smell bacon spitting on the grill. He thought of the diner with its chrome and red vinyl seats that let him belly up to the counter. Early in the morning before the pert waitress arrived, the cook took orders and slathered the hot grill with margarine. Like a symphony conductor, the white-aproned expert simultaneously threw eggs and hash browns to sizzle, adding ladles of melt-in-your-mouth flapjack batter to the crackling, popping breakfast serenade. Michael’s stomach growled and he looked again at his watch.
The nurse came out of the room, adjusted the stethoscope around her neck, and shut the door behind her. Michael watched as she entered another room, continuing her rounds. Turning his attention back to the patient’s room, he observed the slightest movement as the door silently closed.
Jaguar-fast, Michael covered the space down the hall. He opened the door without a sound. In the darkened room, bending over the still form in the bed was the janitor. Light from the hall spilled into the room behind Michael. The janitor whirled around just as Michael lunged at him. With well-trained maneuvers Michael quickly pinned the man’s arms and muscled him into the hall.
“Send someone to collect.” Michael spoke into his radio.
The janitor struggled like a wild man, surprising Michael with his desperate fight.
“Please,” the man pleaded. “She needs water.”
“Easy, old-timer.” He gripped the man tighter.
From the stairwell, Captain Bryce Lassiter ran to meet Michael. “Okay, partner?”
“Yeah.” The man in his grip stopped struggling.
Bryce’s attention shifted to the elevator as the doors opened and four uniformed men stepped out and strode toward them. Suddenly, the janitor jerked from Michael’s hold and ran back toward the patient’s room. Michael dove and tackled the man, and the two fell hard on the clean linoleum.
“She needs me,” the man rasped.
Without a word, Michael jerked the man to his feet. The janitor’s glasses were broken from the impact and blood from his nose mingled with tears on his face as two special-forces officers roughly grabbed his arms and nearly carried him to the elevator.
“Let me care for her,” he sobbed.
As the group reached the elevator, the old man craned his neck, the tendons standing out like cords, to look back toward the patient’s room.
The look of anguish on his face twisted Michael’s gut.
“Verity,” the man wailed. “My Verity!”
The two soldiers pushed him into the elevator and the doors whispered shut.
“Back to work.” Bryce made shooing motions to the two remaining soldiers who turned toward the elevator.
“Back to my post.” Bryce clapped Michael on the back. “Call if you need me.”
He took several steps toward the stairway and then looked back. Michael stood rooted to the spot. His partner returned to his side. “What’s up? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Michael spun on his heel and strode to the patient’s room. Three paces took him to the bedside where he looked at the still form. The light was dim, but enough to see the spilled cup of water on the floor. Enough to see her.
The nurse brushed past to check on her patient, scolding everyone for the mess, and reminding them to keep quiet. In a rush of motion, two sets of strong arms grabbed Michael on either side and hauled him from the room. Too stunned to resist, Michael was unceremoniously dumped in the hallway.
One soldier closed the patient’s door and stood in front of it. “I’m sorry, sir.” He addressed Michael. “Orders are that no one goes into this room.”
Bryce pushed his nose into the man’s face. “He’s your commanding officer, you moron.”
“Sir, yes, sir.” The soldier straightened his shoulders. “Our orders are no one goes into the room. Not even my commanding officer.”
“I have to relieve you of your post.” The second soldier took a position between Michael and the room.
Staring at the closed door, Michael murmured, “No problem, soldier. I was just leaving anyway.” He turned and walked toward the stairway.
Bryce caught up. “Where we goin,’ partner?”
A soldier jogged after the two and blocked their way. “Sir, I have to escort you out, sir.”
“Knock yourself out.” Michael brushed past him.
The soldier ran and blocked the way again.
“You’re getting redundant,” Bryce said to the man.
“By way of the elevator.” The soldier spoke to Michael.
“I prefer to walk.” Michael’s hands were fists at his sides.
“I realize that, sir.” The soldier swallowed. “Orders are that we use the elevator.”
“Bloody orders.” Bryce sighed.
Michael looked at Bryce.
“I love when you do that,” Bryce said.
“Raise one eyebrow like that.”
“I can’t believe you used that word.”
The soldier cleared his throat. “Sirs, can we continue this conversation in the elevator?”
Bryce turned toward the elevator and started walking. “What word?”
Michael followed while the sweating soldier trailed behind. “My word.”
Bryce’s expression was the picture of innocence. “Your word?”
The elevator doors opened, and Michael stepped inside. Nervous and perspiring, the soldier stood to his right. The second soldier occupied the post Michael had kept near the patient’s room.
“Yeah, my word.”
Bryce remained in the hall. “Who said it’s your word?”
The elevator doors closed.